When I was a child my mother would tell people that the mirror was my favorite toy, and she wasn’t wrong. For my fourteenth birthday, I asked my grandmother for a full-length mirror. The one she got me was nicer than the average Target fare, the glass thick and sturdy with elegant etching around the edges. I loved it, and I cried hysterically the day that my mom accidentally shattered it, four years later, when we moved to a new house and she was lifting it off the moving truck. We replaced it, but it wasn’t the same.
I’ve always been very interested in self-reflection. I kept journals my whole life – a habit that my father insisted upon when my brother and I were young, and that, to my knowledge, we both continue to keep up with today. When it became evident to me in my teenage years that people were using the relatively new Internet to explore their feelings in public, I took to it like a moth to flame, posting blogs and serials about my life to any social media site that would have me.
And, of course, I spent many, many hours in front of the mirror.
I used to attribute my obsession with myself to vanity, but I don’t feel that way anymore. I wasn’t staring into that mirror all day admiring my great beauty, after all – I was sixteen with a strange and changing body, just trying to figure out who it was that was staring back at me. Did I like her? Sometimes. Sometimes I just sat in front of it and cried (recall: I was a teenager).
I’m 27 now, and we haven’t had a full-length mirror since we moved in with my in-laws last summer. I honestly don’t know how five people have been living in this house for nearly a year without ever being able tell if their shoes go with their outfit, but here we are. That I managed to start a style blog and a corresponding Instagram account without one is basically a miracle.
Oh sure, there are other mirrors in the house. On any given day I can still manage to put on a face of makeup and evaluate at least 60% of an outfit, but there’s a certain magic to being able to see your full self reflected back at you without being chopped in half by the bathroom sink. The full-length mirror is as necessary and as valuable as a diary, as far as I’m concerned. When else can you look at yourself – and I mean really take in your whole self, undisturbed and with no expectations of you – and reflect? There’s nothing else to focus on but you and how you feel in that specific moment. Make faces. Pick at your skin. Play dress-up with every single thing in your closet. Take charge of your image. It’s a healing activity.
This is all a preamble to the main point of this post, which is that today I convinced my family to pile in the car and drive to IKEA so that we could buy ourselves the full-length mirrors we have obviously all been so desperately missing.
By all accounts, it was a stupid idea. We actually don’t have room for a full length mirror in our tiny little in-law suite. It’s why we got rid of our old mirror (and most of the rest of our possessions) when we moved here in the first place. I was optimistic, though. I thought maybe we could play a game of musical furniture and find a place for the new (gigantic) mirror, but it ended up awkwardly stuffed between my husband’s desk and the banister, in front of a gallery wall of family photos. Even so, I’m glad it’s here. I missed my ankles.
If you’re all the way down here, thanks for reading my little essay. I’m off Instagram for the next few weeks, but I still plan to post here somewhat regularly, so please do continue to stop by. Expect more mirror selfies.